Home electrical wiring guide: Learn the different types

You may think your home is sturdy, but have you looked inside your walls?

It turns out the type of wiring in your home can have an impact on how an insurance company deems your home’s sturdiness. For instance, some wiring types are considered out-of-date and prone to sparking, which could lead to electrical fires.  

But unless you build homes for a living, it can be difficult to know exactly what your home is made out of. It’s even more difficult to know which types of wiring are the safest and preferred by insurers so that you can enjoy a lower premium.  

Let us break it down for you.  

What are the different types of wiring?

An electrical wire is a type of conductor, which is a material that conducts electricity. In households, most conductors are made out of the following:

Copper

This is the most common and trusted type of wiring. Most homes built after the 1970s will have copper wiring. Copper is known for its durability, heat tolerance and long-life span. Because of this, copper has become a very costly option.

Aluminum (1960s-70s)

During the 1960s to the 1970s, aluminum wiring became more popular in homes than copper. However, it also became known to cause house fires. Today, some jurisdictions do not permit aluminum wiring in new installations.  

Still, aluminum is the cheaper option.  

Aluminum & Copper

Some homes have a combination of both aluminum and copper wiring.  For instance, pairing copper wire with aluminum wire can cause corrosion problems which cause the connection to become unstable.

Knob & Tube

This is the oldest type of wiring found in homes, which began around the 1880s. This system was run on individual wires throughout the home. However, modern home buyers often find that existing knob & tube wiring systems lack the capacity for today's levels of power use. At present, new knob and tube installations are permitted in the U.S. only in a few very specific situations.

Which wiring types are insurance-friendly?

Copper is considered the ‘gold standard’ in the wiring world. Any other type may result in a higher insurance premium or difficulty even obtaining insurance.  

If your home utilizes an out-of-date wiring system, it may be time to upgrade in order to lower your risk of fire hazard and obtain an affordable insurance policy.

How can I find out the type of wiring in my home?

To determine what type of wiring your home has, you must first check what year your home was built. Many homes built during the 1930s used the Knob & Tube system while homes built between 1960s and 1970s used aluminum. Homes built after the 1970s use copper, which is considered the best type of wiring.  

However, your home may fall into the exception pool. To be completely certain, hire an electrician to check your home’s wiring. This can also be a good time to assess the condition of the wiring and determine if an upgrade is necessary.  

If by some chance your wiring is exposed, say from an outlet or switch, you can check the color of the wiring to determine its type. Aluminum wiring is silver while copper is a distinct yellow color. As a note: be sure to never touch live wires.

Want to see how wiring types affect insurance? Get a free quote easily at HoneyQuote

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